Riot Pls: Ranked Pls - 2017 Season Ranked Changes

Posted on at 1:34 PM by Moobeat
[UPDATE: Added in a ton of additional red posts and discussion!]

Riot has released a new Riot Pls article detailing the upcoming 2017 season ranked changes, including bringing solo/duo queue back and introducing the new Flex queue.
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Riot Pls: Ranked Pls - 2017 Season Ranked Changes 

Here's the original announcement from New001 and ScuttleChris regarding the upcoming changes for ranked in 2017:
"New001 and ScuttleChris - leads on League of Legends - back again. 
A little over a month ago, we announced a number of improvements to ranked while acknowledging that Dynamic Queue hasn't met the needs of many players. Today, we’re ready to talk about what we’re planning for the 2017 season. 
Let's start with the biggest news: We're bringing back Solo/Duo Queue for all players. 
Solo/Duo Queue 
Remember Season 2015's ranked system? It's a lot like that. Queue up alone or with one trusted friend and aim for Gold (or higher). The major differences from 2015 are that you'll be able to select two preferred positions and veto your least favorite (when autofill is enabled or if you choose fill). Challenger tier will also remain solo-only. 
Ranked Flex 
The Ranked Flex Queue allows up to five players to queue up and compete—a lot like 2016's DQ—and those who climb here will earn unique rewards (and additional flair on their border) at the end of the season. If your premade squad wants a serious, competitive game, this is where you play. Or, if you're a solo player who wants to get good in an environment that rewards more team-oriented skills, the Flex Queue is also there for you. Ranked fives will naturally be merged with this queue, and as a result they'll be available 24/7. 
Those who climb to Gold in both Solo/Duo Queue and the Flex Queue will unlock an extra-special end-of-season reward. 
How We Got Here 
Anyone who followed our ranked changes this year is now probably thinking "so what changed?" For months, we resisted calls to re-release Solo/Duo Queue alongside Dynamic Queue because we believed queue health for both queues would suffer. We also thought we could improve Dynamic Queue enough to satisfy those who feel left out by its design—specifically, those players who really hate playing against premades (or who think premades destroy the integrity of the ranked ladder). 
But over the course of the 2016 season, we developed matchmaking and design improvements to Dynamic Queue that have increased our confidence in our ability to support two ranked queues. So now we want to try it out. 
Ultimately, there are fundamental, irreconcilable differences between Flex and Solo/Duo Queue beyond their varying rules on premades. Our hope is both queues will thrive by leveraging those differences to attract different types of players. For example, there are certain competencies that Solo/Duo Queue will reward more: 
  • The ability to "solo carry" games is rewarded more highly in solo/duo queue. Since far fewer premade players are coming in with coordinated strategies they've practiced ahead of time, there's a bigger emphasis on your ability to win lane and leverage your power across the map.
  • You may be on your own, but you've got to be able to become a leader for a group of strangers. You can't tilt, and you have to be able to adapt on the fly to the idiosyncrasies of your teammates. 
The Flex Queue also tests all the skills you've developed while playing solo, but additionally rewards a different set of competencies: 
  • In champ select, you've got to focus more on cohesive team comps, and late game communication strategies will likely make the biggest difference between winning and losing teams—a well-coordinated crew with a solid game plan will shine brightest here.
  • This queue will likely develop its own meta that's more focused on early game invades and unexpected, tightly-coordinated rotations. 
We think that with unique rewards and a different-feeling environment, players will see the value of the Flex and Solo/Duo Queue, and both will thrive. 
But what if we're wrong? 
It may be the case that solo or duo players aren't interested in the Flex Queue, and its population—and thus queue times—could suffer as a result. All queues need solo players to survive. It may work in some regions, but not others. If that's the case, we'll turn the Flex Queue into a strict five-man queue, effectively converting it into the old ranked fives queue (minus the roster management restrictions and plus all the algorithmic improvements we developed during the 2016 season). 
We always want players to have the ability to play competitively as a group, but we'll give up our dream of a competitive "dynamic" queue if players don't think it's worth their time. 
The 2016 ranked season taught us a lot about our game, players, and how Riot can do better. Thanks for sticking with us.

  • Will these changes ship only on the client update, or for the legacy client as well? 
    • These changes will ship to both clients. 
  • What about ranked emblems? 
    • They're gone. Emblems were a band-aid solution, not a permanent fix. 
  • What about a way for friends with vastly different ratings play together competitively? Last season's Ranked Teams let us do that. 
    • Ultimately, we're making a trade-off here, but it's one we're okay with for a few reasons. If you're letting Bronze players queue up alongside Diamond friends, it's nearly impossible for us to create a well-matched game. We've tried it in the past with the Ranked Teams queue, and some players liked it, but queue populations were always incredibly small and match quality was inconsistent. Since we're supporting ranked five-on-five games in the Flex queue, we've got to draw a line here: in our new system, Normals are the best place for low-ranked players to queue up with their highly-ranked friends."

Follow Up Discussion & Commentary

To clarify, Cactopus explained they are two completely separate ladders:
"Yep. They're totally separate queues and ladders."
He continued:
" Flex queue is pretty much Dynamic queue but more lax about people queueing up as five at high ranks"
Ghostcrawler added:
But it leaves the new dynamic "flex queue" as an alternative to solo queue...basically creating a good ranked environment for 3-4 man groups
Also, it's not completely the old system. The concept of position selection from DQ still exists even in the new Solo / Duo queue." 
Mirross reminded there will still have tier restrictions:
I have to assume that the 2 leagues restriction will be up too, right? (in both laders) I mean, golds can only play with Silvers-Golds-Plats)
Yes there will be tier restrictions."

As for other specifics between the two queues, Ghostcrawler shared:
Maybe this is too soon to ask, but will the decay systems be different for the two queues? Will the Ranked Flex have decay or will it be like ranked teams? Thanks for listening Riot^^
The idea is that they will work as similarly as possible."

As for the MMR for the queues and what they feed from, Ghostcrawler noted
What about MMR? If I'm Plat 4 this season, what will my placement matchs look like next year? Does the MMR carry over between queues?
There will be two different MMRs, but we'll definitely look at one to inform the other. We're trying to prevent the situation where someone who is Plat in Solo suddenly jumps into Flex and crushes because the game doesn't register that they're actually a pretty competent player."
Riot Mirross later added:
Will the Ranked Flex Queue take your Ranked Teams MMR or will it be fresh?
We'll seed starting with DQ this season. Starting from scratch is too many clown fiesta games"

Mirross also commented on why this change took a whole season to work out and implement:
Did you really need almost a year to make this changes? If you look through comments from when DQ was released people were already predicting this would happen, including the last possibility mentioned of bringing back five-man queue.
This is a fair question. It's a combination of: 
Matchmaking was in a bad state when we launched, along with position preference. This affects all draft modes. That's been a big focus. 
Changing mid-season is something we really avoid where possible. To solo players this feels like a no-brainer, but there are a ton of players that like playing in premades, and this solution puts that at risk. Doing this at the season border lets us test things in the preseason."
As for why, Ghostcrawler added:
What made you revert it ?
Mostly, player feedback. As we said in the post, we didn't think we could meet the needs of everyone with a single queue. 
The queue starvation issues that discouraged us from trying two queues before are still real issues, but we're going to try to solve them." 
Ghostcrawler continued:
Why 10 months later? Community has been ragging you on this the entire time? You didnt need to "anti preference" feature if thats what you were waiting for
We initially said this year that we were going to turn on both Solo and Dynamic, and it was our haste in saying that which ended up burning a bunch of player trust. At the time we had to back down because we didn't think the populations would exist to have decent queue times at both queues. 
Now that we've had many months to work on the problem, we have more confidence that we can support both queues. Our acknowledgment that Flex may not work out is because we have "more confidence" not "total confidence." :)"
Ghostcrawler continued:
What prompted this decision? Going by statistics Riot has given out before, Dynamic Queue was causing a very, very small percentage of games to be imbalanced in terms of queue sizes. In high elo, this was a problem due to low player density, so it was turned off. 
This system, while maybe not perfect, was not the horrific mess that many people deemed it to be. So to my question: What goal are you aiming for in this change? Since we'll very likely be sacrificing queue times and potential game quality as a result, what are we gaining through this change?
The change was driven almost entirely by player perception. Even though we fixed a bunch of problems with DQ, some solo players were still frustrated at having to join or go against a partial-premade, and others felt like ranked was less legitimate with a greater potential for boosted animals. Those are almost philosophical arguments that are hard to mitigate by presenting data. 
At the end of the day, we try to do what is right for players, and based on a whole bunch of feedback (and obviously not just from Reddit, but from a whole lot of avenues throughout the world) we felt like the new pitch will be better received by you all." 
Ghostcrawler added:
So you finally do what the community has been requesting all along. How about you one admit you fked up and were wrong, and two learn from this and other times that you (RIOT) refused to listen to the players.
We were wrong.

We do listen to players, but players rarely speak with one voice. There were a lot of players who enjoyed DQ, which is why it wasn't as simple as just turning that off and turning solo back on. We needed time to have some confidence that this new plan could try to appeal to both."

When asked about the decision to keep solo/duo instead of trying a purely solo queue, Pwyff  noted:
now that we have 2 ranked queues, why not make soloq full solo?
We got almost unilateral pushback from pros and high ranked players. A pure solo queue can get pretty lonesome for many, as well as the opportunity to practice bot lane synergies, etc. 
Someone asked this internally as well, and Ghostcrawler's response was: 
"We also didn't want to reinforce, even in solo queue, that LoL is a game where that you can really just play solo and try and ignore or minimize the other folks on the team. You can never have a pure experience, even in solo queue. The exception is challenger, which is a necessary compromise to preserve reasonable queue times, not because challenger is somehow more pure and therefore deserves real solo." 
Ghostcrawler added:
Why, after everything, have you not tried true solo queue?
We floated that idea, but honestly we heard from a lot of players that they liked the ability to sometimes queue with another player. We wanted to reduce the risk and revert to something that we knew worked out pretty well, rather than try out yet another iteration that some players might reject. 
Also, in the unfortunate event that we have to shift Flex into 5-player premades only, we wanted to preserve the ability to have somewhere to queue with someone else."
Riot Mirross also added:
Wouldn't making it a solo (not duo) queue and a flex queue help so you get enough doubles to match with triples in flex?
It might do yes. We don't think that pure solo is a better experience. Never being able to queue with a player you meet in that queue is a strange, alienating starting point.
We expect more duos than triples though, based on current DQ patterns."

Ghostcrawler also commented on players queuing as solo in the new flex mode:
can you queue up solo in flex Q?
Yes, and our hope is that some folks do just that. Unless you have a whole bunch of time, you may feel like you have to choose one queue or the other to be your primary way to play. If you often like to play with groups of 3+ players, then Flex may make more sense for you, rather than only making progress climbing the Flex ladder when you can build that premade."
He continued:
I'm going to state this right here. There i no good reason for a solo player to go into flex queue. You are inherently putting yourself at a disadvantage due to communication alone. 
I play to win. I lower my chances of winning by playing flex, as a solo player. Convince me otherwise.
If you are primarily a solo player, and the concept of playing with or against coordinated premades bugs you, then you shouldn't queue for Flex. Solo is being turned on explicitly for players like you. 
However, if you want an experience that is less about individual carry potential and more about teamwork and coordination, then maybe you'd consider Flex. I don't honestly expect we get a ton of players who queue for Flex exclusively as solo players. Maybe it will happen if it just feels like a competitive environment that is less competitive than Solo, and there is a decent population for that experience. But I think it's more likely that someone who sometimes queues with 3s or 4s, even if it's only once a week or so, will still play solo in Flex so that they will progress through ranks more quickly. 
And the truly hardcore will try to progress in both."

As for what they may try if there are queue health problems with individual players wanting to go solo into the flex queue, Cactopus commented:
Why jump right to 5 man only? Why not make it "Party Que" where only groups of 2,3, or 5 can join?
Disallowing 4-mans is probably something we'd try first."
Riot Mirross added:
Would it possible to just not allow 4 man queues? I feel if there's a lack of solo players (which I really think there will be) in flex queue, having two/three/or five man queues is probably a great option to get rid of the need for solo players in flex queue.
We're looking at this. We actually don't need the most solos for 4 player premades, it's more for the duos and trios. We'd prefer to keep the option of 4's but we may restrict it.

Pwyff  also commented  that 3v3 / Twisted Treeline will be switched to FLEX queue as well:
Any clue on what's going to happen with team ranked 3v3 now that 5v5 ranked is gone?
We're planning to turn 3s into a ranked flex 3s (so queue 1-3 in ranked TT)."

Looking ahead,  Reav3  also commented they are still looking into changing the number of bans.
I still think with the amount of champions this game has now we should be allowed at least 1 more ban per champ select. I'm definitely happy about the 2017 changes but when will we get another ban considering riot likes to release new champs every 2 months...
We are still looking into increasing bans in 2017. Nothing final yet but we are exploring it. Doing it will depend on the new client though."

As for what rewards might pop up for those placing in ranks in in both queues, Cactopus noted:
What about the exclusive rewards for getting gold+ in both queues? Any specifics?
We've got some cool ideas. But the end of the 2017 season is a long ways off."

Mirross also commented on tentative rewards for the 2017 ranked with regard to having both solo/duo and flex -
"We have to hammer out details but likely 1 victorious skin with chromas for each queue."
He continued
"No sorry i suck at clarification. 1 victorious skin. chromas for each queue."
When asked about idea of hextech rewards being added to end of year ranked rewards, Riot Mirross continued:
To this sort of tune, curious if y'all have considered some amount of hextech currency or chests added on to the reward pool for end of season now that it is an established system.
Yeah that sort of thing is what we made hextech super-flexible to allow. Really players mostly care about stuff that's exclusively obtained through ranked achievement, so that's what we think is most valuable to add."


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